Curtis Blaydes believes that a win against Derrick Lewis this weekend at UFC Vegas 15 should cement him as the next heavyweight title challenger. And should the outcome of the fight see the 29-year old Illinois native with his hand raised, he’s willing to sit out until he gets that shot.
“I think I’ll be waiting. If I win this fight I’ll be five in a row. I think that should be enough to warrant a title shot,” Blaydes (14-2, 1NC) told Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 15 media day this week.
Blaydes, however, could be waiting a while. There are all sorts of variables at play in the UFC heavyweight division. Especially as it pertains to “Razor” Blaydes.
A standout wrestler, Curtis Blaydes has been unapologetic about his blanketing style. And while it can be explosive and entertaining, it hasn’t always won over the fanbase. Worse, the “2” in Blaydes’ 14-2 record is due to Francis Ngannou. Who is expected to fight champ Stipe Miocic sometime next year. Both of Blaydes’ pro losses came to “The Predator” — and a third fight could be a hard sell. Though no impossible given the streak he’s built.
Then there’s the Jon Jones factor. If the former light heavyweight champion does indeed arrive at heavyweight next year, he’ll represent the wild card. A marketable fighter that would represent a super-fight for the champ.
“It’s a possibility. I know it’s very possible,” Blaydes said, when asked about Jones jumping the line for a title shot. If Blaydes’ plan is to sit out until his own crack at gold, that could leave him waiting a year. “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I don’t waste any of my brain cells or brain or time just projecting on things that are out of my control. It could definitely happen and there’s nothing I can do about that.”
With the prospect of Jon Jones’ arrival backing up the division, you might expect that making a statement in his fight against Lewis would be all the more imperative. Not to Blaydes, however, whose response to that suggestion was “It’s not.”
“My job is to win. Even if I hit Derrick with a flying arm bar, if the people want Jon Jones, the people are going to get Jon Jones,” he stated. “There’s absolutely nothing I can do.”
For now, all he can do is fight Derrick Lewis, who he insists the UFC has been protecting. Blaydes has been making the claim for months; Wednesday, he reiterated it. “I’m not one of those guys that just says ridiculous stuff just to get press views. If I said it, I meant it,” said Blaydes. “I did mean it. They gave him Blagoy Ivanov. I don’t think very highly of Blagoy Ivanov. They gave him Ilir Latifi, I don’t think very highly of Ilir Latifi. They gave him a lot of guys I don’t think very highly of.”
“They’ve been protecting him,” Blaydes reiterated.
Watch the full UFC Vegas 15 virtual media day press scrum with Curtis Blaydes above. The event takes place this Saturday, November 28, airing live on ESPN. The main card kicks off at 10PM ET.